Evolution of the NHS: What it means for your business
The latest figures from the regulators Monitor and Trust Development Authority have revealed the NHS deficit sits at a staggering £930 million1, an amount that has been generated by NHS trusts over the first three months of the financial year. With the deficit predicted to rise to over £2 billion by the end of the year, pressure for reforms within the NHS is only going to grow.
What does this mean for your business?
The NHS is already working flat out to provide a high standard of healthcare at a time when an ageing population and chronic conditions are on the up. Should the government decide to increase spending cuts to reduce the deficit then the NHS' job will become even harder.
If this happens then more pressure will be put on you as an employer in regards to your employees' health. You may have to take even more responsibility to ensure that your employees can get the care they would like. Or you might have to update your health and wellbeing strategy and discover ways to motivate your employees to be healthy.
Health and wellbeing strategy
While you cannot predict the exact direction the government will take on rectifying such a huge spending deficit, you can certainly revise your health and wellbeing strategy to ensure that your employees can get the care they want. By carrying out such a revision you'll also be able to prepare your business for any changes that occur within the NHS, such as budgeting for the cost of supporting your employees.
Operating with due diligence and staying informed can help you to better plan for the future of your business; using insight on how employees view health can help you achieve this. The Simplyhealth Everyday Health Tracker offers such insight. Run on a quarterly basis in partnership with YouGov, it measures people's attitudes and behaviours towards their everyday health.
Will people pay for healthcare services?
The second wave of results actually highlights people's attitudes towards the NHS, the kind of insight that can help to shape your health and wellbeing strategy in regards to the future needs of your business.
Interestingly, the tracker found that there is some willingness to pay towards some everyday health services. When asked about the following services, the following percentages of respondents said that they would pay either 'all of the cost' or 'some of the cost'.
- Optician (69%)
- Dentist (67%)
- Mobility & Independent living aids (51%)
- Physio/chiropractor/osteopath (51%)
Offering your employees the opportunity to access healthcare services can really help with your business needs.
It can make them feel valued which can help with retention. It can enable them to be seen quicker and spend less time off of work, which can help to reduce your absence rates. Plus, it can also prove to be an attractive recruitment benefit.
Public opinion on the NHS
The direction of the NHS reforms may create service gaps that need filling, which will present a real business case for you to play a part in helping your employees access healthcare services.
Public opinion on the service gaps that could occur is quite telling. The Everyday Health Tracker found that most adults (56%) believe that the NHS can't do everything across all areas of healthcare. This, combined with the fact that there is some willingness to pay for some health services, indicates that your employees will value your help.
With the government facing a huge amount of pressure over the NHS there is no telling what will happen over the coming 18 months. However, that being said, it could prove beneficial for you to ensure that your business is prepared for all eventualities in regards to the health and wellbeing of your employees.
How can employees provide excellent insight?
So the findings from the Everyday Health Tracker illustrate public awareness of how the NHS is currently functioning and how it could develop. But how can you navigate these changes while supporting your employees in a way that produces great results for your business?
To achieve this you could actively listen to and engage your employees to discover what health benefits would work best for them.
There are a number of things you can do to gain such insight.
Why not run workshops that promote discussions on the current situation of the NHS, as well as the health benefits that you currently provide?
Inviting guest speakers could work to engage your employees and get them thinking more about their everyday health, their level of satisfaction with the healthcare services they access and the health benefits that you provide. As you run these workshops you could record and measure your employees' feedback.
Engage employees on the topic of health
You could also have a space online or via your intranet that is dedicated to promoting topics around health and wellbeing that encourages feedback. What about a rolling blog that publishes engaging content and drives your employees to comment and give their opinions?
Introduce elected spokespeople
A great way to receive accurate and representative feedback is to have a spokesperson for each team within your company. If there is more than one person that wants to be the voice for the team then put it to a vote.
This way you'll be getting feedback from those employees that are already actively engaged with the issues of health and wellbeing. Members of the team are also more likely to be honest with these elected representatives, thus leading to informative feedback at discussion sessions.
What to do moving forward
By continually making the effort to understand your employees' attitudes towards health, you can implement changes to your health and wellbeing strategy that provide a solid foundation, making you prepared for whatever changes may occur within the NHS.
Equally, by keeping a close eye on how the NHS develops, you can prepare business changes that will help your employees to access the healthcare they need, thus reducing the chance of an increase in absence and the resulting costs.
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